October 1, 2018
Welcome to FOSSILS!
In the extraordinary material-culture essay collection Things (ed. Bill Brown, 2004), W.J.T. Mitchell helpfully defines fossilism — one of several ways in which we tend to romanticize inanimate objects — as “the ironic or catastrophic consciousness of modernity and revolution.” We find certain objects significant, that is, because they remind us of just how profoundly the world around us, not to mention the way we relate to the world, has changed. Such changes can happen so gradually that we hardly notice while we’re going through them. This is why “fossils” that survive from a period before all changed utterly possess the power to shock us out of our cognitive complacency.
Comparing now with then — via contemplation of a fossil — may be a fascinating or merely amusing exercise, or it may be a troubling or depressing one. Hence Mitchell’s notion of ironic vs. catastrophic consciousness, which is in fact a continuum. The true stories that we’ve asked twenty-five contributors to share, about objects in their possession which evoke a vanished era of one sort or another, illustrate various points along the ironic-to-catastrophic-consciousness spectrum. Some of the FOSSIL volume’s contributors mourn the passing of a more innocent or free time in their lives; others look back on the way the world used to be, and the way they existed within that world, with embarrassment or bemusement.
What all of FOSSIL’s contributors share in common is their tremendous talent and generosity; this is an amazing collection. PROJECT:OBJECT’s sixth volume, FOSSILS, begins publication tomorrow. Here’s the lineup:
Allegra Huston on SKATAWAY JACKET | Kevin Obsatz on HOMEMADE NUNCHUKS | Ian Bogost on DESKTOP TELEPHONE | Jeff Lewonczyk on CHA-CHA JACKET SCRAP | Kelly Horan on VOLVO KEY | Sarah Rich on WESTFEST EARRINGS | Cynthia Joyce on MELODICA | Kevin Brockmeier on SALADMOBILE | Adam Harrison Levy on PASSPORT HOLDER | Marissa Frayer on BABY BLANKET | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on RML BOOKEND | Jae Nichelle on SHEET MUSIC | Sean Patrick Walsh on TYPEWRITER | Andrew Innes on BUST OF DUCK | Carla Sinclair on FACTSHEET FIVE | Chapell Ellison on SLEIGH BELL | Malcolm Evans on “QUEEN MARY” FOB | Jason Gilbert on HAND CHAIR | Karl Taro Greenfeld on OPIUM KIT | Tony Leone on MODEL TANK | Dave Boerger on TEEN BIBLE | Chelsey Johnson on BREYER HORSES | Erin M. Routson on PAPER WALLET | Alissa Walker on JUKEBOX | Adrienne Crew on FISH SCALER.
PROJECT:OBJECT co-editors Rob Walker and Josh Glenn are grateful to the FOSSILS volume’s contributors, many of whom have contributed their fees to the ACLU. Many thanks to HILOBROW friend Mister Reusch for the great series logo.
FLAIR: INTRODUCTION | Cliff Kuang on ROLEX DATEJUST | Ethan Zuckerman on LAPTOP STICKERS | Ann Shoket on LEATHER JACKET | Kembrew McLeod on KEMBREW MERCH | Paola Antonelli on MERMAID TEARS | & 20 MORE.
LOST OBJECTS (vol. 1): INTRODUCTION | Kate Bernheimer on MULLET WIG (ill. Amy Evans) | Dan Piepenbring on COLOGNE (ill. Josh Neufeld) | Doug Dorst on STRATOCASTER (ill. John Holbo) | Paul Lukas on VANILLA BEAN (ill. Alison Bamcat) | Mimi Lipson on DODGE DART (ill. Mister Reusch) | & 20 MORE.
ILLICIT OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Kio Stark on PEEPSHOW TOKEN | Sari Wilson on TOMBSTONE PARTS | Annalee Newitz on CAR-BOMB REMNANT | Tito Bottitta on MOONINITE DEVICE | Eric Bennett on DIRTY MAGAZINE | & 20 MORE.
TALISMANIC OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | & 20 MORE.
POLITICAL OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.
SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018) | FETISHES series (2Q2019) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 2 series (4Q2019) | MOVIE OBJECTS series (2Q2020). ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.